|Coach Winlon Knowles|
Coach Winlon Knowles, longtime athletic director at Pine Tree ISD, was inducted into the Hall of Honor at the Texas High School Athletic Directors Association Hall of Honor Banquet on July 17 in San Antonio.
Knowles, who retired in 1977 had been in the school business for 42 years, including 21 at Pine Tree where he served as head football coach and athletic director until 1971 and then AD until his retirement.
After graduation from Pittsburg HS where he played only one year of high school football, he gained a spot on the varsity team at North Texas State where he lettered for three years and started for two at center. He was a member of the Lone Star Conference team in 1932. He also played basketball his freshmen and senior years before earning his B.A. degree and later Master’s degree from North Texas.
After graduating in 1935, he started the football program at White Oak HS when he was only 20 years old (he was younger than some of his players!) During his 12 years at White Oak, his teams won 95, lost 25 and tied three. They won seven district titles, 3 three regional titles and had a total of 42 consecutive district wins during one stretch. He had three undefeated, untied seasons at White Oak. During this time, lower classification schools could not advance to state.
In 1948 he installed the first football program at the newly created Panola College in Carthage. The nucleus of that team went on to win conference titles in 1949 and 1950. However, Knowles departed for Tulane University after that first year. He joined the staff at Tulane as an assistant line coach and defensive coach and was part of the 1949 Southeastern Conference Championship staff.
He moved to Trinity University in San Antonio in May 1952 and was an integral part of conference championship teams in 1953 and 1954. In 1954 Trinity was the only undefeated college team in Texas. He remained at Trinity for four years as head line coach and defensive coordinator before moving to Pine Tree in 1956.
During his stay at Pine Tree, the Pirates won district championships in all the major sports and won a state basketball championship in 1973. His football teams from 1956 to 1971 won 92, lost 54 and tied two. They were district champions in 1959 and bi-district champions in 1963. He never had a losing season in 15 years as head coach at Pine Tree and only one in his 29 years as a head coach.
The veteran coach and athletic director was inducted into the Coaches’ Hall of Honor by the Texas High School Coaches’ Association in 1968. He was a director of that association from 1966-1968 and was named to Who’s Who in Texas in 1973. He was a member of the THSCA three-man Hall of Honor Selection Committee, serving three years as chairman.
In 1970 he was one of the 22 athletic directors present in Houston at the organizing meeting of the THSADA. He also served as President of the Pine Tree TSTA unit for two consecutive school years from 1969-1971.
Coach Winlon Knowles died August 10, 1989, leaving his beloved wife of 51years, Velma, whom he had met at White Oak where she was teaching P.E. Velma enjoyed being a “coach’s wife” right up to her death this past January at 103 years old, leaving a legacy of her own.
Winlon and Velma had two children, Gae and Jack, both of whom are retired educators as are their spouses, Rob Best (not yet retired) and Mary.
Coach Knowles inspired and molded many young men, particularly his five grandsons and also his many players and fellow coaches. His 15 great-grandchildren are very proud of his memory.